Skip to main content
main-content
Top

About this book

This new edition of Hedley Bull's most systematic and fundamental work marks the 35th anniversary of its original publication. The book includes a substantial new foreword by Andrew Hurrell examining the continuing relevance of The Anarchical Society to developments in theory and in the structures and practices of world politics.

Table of Contents

The Nature of Order in World Politics

Frontmatter

1. The Concept of Order in World Politics

Abstract
A study of order in world politics must begin with the question: what is it? I shall indicate what I mean by order in social life generally, and proceed to consider what it means in the system of states and in world politics in general.
Hedley Bull

2. Does Order Exist in World Politics?

Abstract
We have now made it clear what is meant in this study by order in world politics. The question we must now ask is: does it exist?
Hedley Bull

3. How is Order Maintained in World Politics?

Abstract
We have now explained what is meant by order in world politics, and shown that in some measure it exists in the modern system of states. The question to which we shall now turn is: how is it maintained?
Hedley Bull

4. Order versus Justice in World Politics

Abstract
Order is not merely an actual or possible condition or state of affairs in world politics, it is also very generally regarded as a value. But it is not the only value in relation to which international conduct can be shaped, nor is it necessarily an overriding one. At the present time, for example, it is often said that whereas the Western powers, in the justifications they offer of their policies, show themselves to be primarily concerned with order, the states of the Third World are primarily concerned with the achievement of justice in the world community, even at the price of disorder. Professor Ali Mazrui, one of the few contemporary writers on international relations to have thought deeply about this question, has said that the Western powers, the principal authors of the United Nations Charter, wrote it in such a way that peace and security are treated as the primary objectives of the organisation, and the promotion of human rights as a secondary objective, whereas the African and Asian states are dedicated to reversing this order of priority.1
Hedley Bull

Order in the Contemporary International System

Frontmatter

5. The Balance of Power and International Order

Abstract
In this chapter I propose to deal with the following questions:
(i)
What is the balance of power?
 
(ii)
How does the balance of power contribute to international order?
 
(iii)
What is the relevance of the balance of power to the maintenance of international order at present?
 
Hedley Bull

6. International Law and International Order

Abstract
In this chapter I propose to consider the following questions:
(i)
What is international law, and what bearing does it have on international behaviour?
 
(ii)
What is the role of international law in relation to international order?
 
(iii)
What is the role of international law in relation to international order in the special circumstances of the present time?
 
Hedley Bull

7. Diplomacy and International Order

Abstract
In this chapter I propose to consider the following questions:
(i)
What is diplomacy?
 
(ii)
How does diplomacy contribute to international order?
 
(iii)
What is the relevance of diplomacy to international order at present?
 
Hedley Bull

8. War and International Order

Abstract
It may be argued that it is perverse to treat war as an institution of the society of states, but in the sense that it is a settled pattern of behaviour, shaped towards the promotion of common goals, there cannot be any doubt that it has been in the past such an institution, and remains one. In this chapter I propose to consider:
(i)
What is war?
 
(ii)
What functions has it fulfilled in relation to international order in the historical modern states system?
 
(iii)
What, if any, are the functions of war in international politics at the present time?
 
Hedley Bull

9. The Great Powers and International Order

Abstract
In this chapter I propose to consider the following:
(i)
What are the great powers?
 
(ii)
What role do great powers play in relation to international order?
 
(iii)
What is the role of the great powers in relation to international order at the present time?
 
Hedley Bull

Alternative Paths to World Order

Frontmatter

10. Alternatives to the Contemporary States System

Abstract
We must begin our inquiry into alternative paths to world order with the question: what forms of universal political organisation, alternative to the present states system, are there? The number of alternatives that can be conceived is, of course, boundless. Here I confine my attention to a few that may be judged significant.
Hedley Bull

11. The Decline of the States System?

Abstract
It is often argued today that the states system is in decline, that it is giving place, or will give place, to some fundamentally different form of universal political organisation. What evidence is there that between now and the end of the century the states system is likely to be replaced by one or another of the alternatives discussed in the last chapter?
Hedley Bull

12. The Obsolescence of the States System?

Abstract
It is sometimes argued that whether or not the states system is in decline, it is obsolete in the sense of being dysfunctional — that is to say, that it has ceased or is ceasing to be capable of fulfilling the basic ends or goals of man on earth. On this view the states system, whether or not it is judged to have provided a satisfactory means of attaining it in the past, does not now or will not in the future provide a viable path to world order. It follows from this that even if we accept the argument of the last chapter that there is no conclusive evidence that the states system is giving place to an alternative form of universal political organisation, we should nevertheless recognise that the goal of world order requires some alternative, and dedicate ourselves to work for it. This, for example, is the perspective of the editors of a recent series of volumes on The Future of the International Legal Order, Cyril E. Black and Richard A. Falk. It is stated also, with more passion, in Falk’s This Endangered Planet.1
Hedley Bull

13. The Reform of the States System?

Abstract
If the states system seems likely to persist in the foreseeable future, and at the same time is not necessarily destined to become obsolete or dysfunctional, how can it best be reformed or reshaped so as to more effectively promote world order? In this chapter we shall consider some of the possible answers to this question.
Hedley Bull

14. Conclusion

Abstract
It was stated at the outset that the purpose of this inquiry was not to advance any ‘solution’ to the problem of maintaining order in world politics, or to canvass any set of policies as representing ‘the way ahead’. It is evident, however, that the argument has taken a definite direction, and that certain recommendations appear to be implicit in it, or may be read into it. Here I shall state briefly what the direction of the argument has been, but also why it should not be read as a set of prescriptions or recommendations.
Hedley Bull
Additional information